Ahead in the Clouds

Jul 2 2015   4:04PM GMT

Uber’s success suggests enterprises need to think like startups about cloud

Caroline Donnelly Profile: Caroline Donnelly

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Cloud-championing CIOs love to bang on about how ditching on-premise technologies helps liberate IT departments, as it means they can spend less time propping up servers and devote more to developing apps and services that will propel the business forward. 

It’s a shift that, when successfully executed, can help make companies more competitive, as they’re nimbler and better positioned to quickly respond to market changes and evolving consumer demands. 
But it takes time, with Gartner analyst John-David Lovelock telling Computer Weekly this week that companies take at least a year to get up and running in the cloud from having first considered taking the plunge. 
“It takes companies about 12 months to say, ‘this server is more expensive or this storage array is too expensive so we should go for Compute-as-a-Service or Storage-as-a- Service instead’,” he said. 
“Making that shift within a year is not something they can traditionally do if they weren’t already on the path to the cloud.” 
Future development 
Companies preparing to make such a move can’t afford to be without a top-notch team of developers, if they’re serious about capitalising on the agility benefits of cloud, according to Jeff Lawson, CEO of cloud communications company Twilio. 
“Every company has to think of themselves as software builders or they will probably become irrelevant. Companies are building software and iterating quickly to create great experiences for customers, and they’re going to out-compete those that aren’t,” he told Computer Weekly. 
Lawson was in London this week to support his San Francisco-based company’s European expansion plans, which have already seen Twilio invest in offices in London, Dublin and Estonia. 
In fact, the company claims to have signed up 700,000 developers across the globe, and that one in five people across the world have already interacted with an app featuring its technology. 
The firm’s cloud-based SMS and voice calling API is used by taxi-hailing app Uber to send alerts out to customers when the drivers they’ve booked are nearby, for example, and similarly by holiday accommodation listing site, AirBnB. 
Both these companies are regularly lauded by the likes of Amazon Web Services, EMC and Google because they’re both popular services that are said to be run exclusively on cloud technologies. 
Neither has to suffer the burden of having weighty, legacy technology investments eating up large portions of their IT budgets. For this reason, enterprises should be looking at them for inspiration about how to make their operations leaner, meaner and more agile, it’s often said. 
Given that Uber and AirBnB have seemingly become household names overnight, it highlights – to a certain extent – why the move to cloud is something the enterprise can’t afford to put off. 
Simply because, in the time it takes them to get there, a newer, nimbler, born-in-the-cloud competitor might have made a move on their territory and it may be harder to outmanoeuvre them with on-premise technologies.


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